Radiohead–Live at Philips Arena

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I don’t always see concerts at Philips Arena, but when I do, they’re a good band.  This was my third time for Radiohead, a British band that released their first album 24 years ago.  Their music has evolved through those years, not necessarily in the direction I might prefer, but they’ve continued to release music that challenges and intrigues, which is a rarity.

Radiohead Atlanta concert review

The stage was set for this Philips show, with seats in Red, a bar/lounge at the end of the arena with tables set against the railings, complete with a waitress.  It’s s a distant view, but one without people standing in front of you, crowding you from the sides, and similar expected aggravations of attending concerts.  I’m still willing to stand on the floor for shows, but this was an exemplary way to see the concert.  Gathered below are Matt, his wife Meredith, my concert buddy Frank and me.  I was primed for seeing the band, as it had been nine years since the last time I had seen them.



The show opened with high intensity beams, not unlike a mid 70’s laser show, a spectacle of sorts, with the promise of more to come.   What would follow included a good retrospective on their history, and it made me aware of how few of their post OK Computer songs I actually knew the names of or could place on a specific album.  Kid A sounds like Amnesiac (recorded at the same time).  Hail to the Thief and King of Limbs are similar for general lack of a pulse, In Rainbows I’ve pretty well got figured out, and their latest, A Heart Shaped Pool, has good songs but I’m no so familiar with them that I might not think the songs were on one their other CDs. (No “Identikit.”  Really?). 

Radiohead Atlanta concert review

The other aspect is how starkly divided their work sounds between OK Computer and Kid A.  When listening to an album, each has its vibe.  Interjected like a random play list, there’s a definite gravity for me – and apparently thousands of others – towards their earlier songs with clearer melodies and less pretensions.  Still, had the concert excluded all those, I still would have enjoyed the show; it’s just the the songs relate in different ways.  In any case, even songs which don’t significantly register amid an album sound really good when the band plays them live.

RH-20

Now, I’ll go ahead and put this out there – maybe someone will with agree with me.  For an arena show, the video board was awful.  As shown below, the majority of the concert featured not only captures of each of the band members (itself not a bad thing), but they changed positions every few seconds leaving no opportunity for the audience to observe any band member with a sense of continuity.  When snippets of Yorke were featured, they frequently showed only the back of his head – either the camera or the piano out of position. When going to a concert, Johnny Greenwood thrashing at the guitar, Phil Selway’s mastery of the drums, or Thom Yorke’s signature rattling of his head to shake the vocals out demand to be seen.  Clearly. As for the lighting, there was nothing spectacular – spotlights and general shading of the stage with hues of blue or red, primarily.  The only standout use of the video board was during the encore, when Yorke playfully looked into a camera placed on the keyboard, allowing him to display his expressive self (see the eye photo at the beginning).  Still, based on past shows, the production value was weaker this tour.



That said, the sound quality was very good, improving after the first handful of songs both in quality and loudness.  It takes an impressive amount of computing horsepower to coordinate lights and sound for an arena show.



As for the crowd, the show had sold out in 10 minutes.  The below was the forward view with the crowd encouraging an encore return.  The band was gracious with three of these, as well as a 25 song set lasting about 2.5 hours, which flew by all too fast.



Overall, it was a great show, and if there was one thing lacking, I’d really like to hear this band take one of their songs and extend it musically for a few minutes – several just ended way too soon.  And as for that, Yorke’s voice was in superb shape, so there’s likely to be opportunities for that in future tours.

Radiohead Atlanta 2017

Photos were taken with a Canon G15, a point and shoot from a mile away with some post-processing to make them tolerable.  You can click on any picture for an enlargement, for what it’s worth.
Setlist:
  • Daydreaming – Moon Shaped Pool
  • Desert Island Disk - Moon Shaped Pool
  • Ful Stop – Moon Shaped Pool
  • Airbag – OK Computer
  • My Iron Lung – The Bends
  • Separator - The King of Limbs
  • All I Need - In Rainbows
  • Pyramid Song – Amnesiac
  • Street Spirit (Fade Out) – The Bends
  • Bloom – The King of Limbs
  • I Might Be Wrong - Amnesiac
  • Myxomatosis - Hail to the Thief
  • Idioteque - Kid A
  • The Gloaming – Hail to the Thief
  • Subterranean Homesick Alien – OK Computer
  • The Numbers - Moon Shaped Pool
  • House of Cards - In Rainbows
Encore:
  • No Surprises – OK Computer
  • Burn the Witch - Moon Shaped Pool
  • Paranoid Android – OK Computer
  • Present Tense – Moon Shaped Pool
  • Everything in it’s Right Place – Kid A
2nd Encore:
  • You and Whose Army? - Amnesiac
  • Bodysnatchers – In Rainbows
3rd Encore:
  • Karma Police – OK Computer

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